The weather is getting unpredictable, and the tourists are slowing down. There is a lot of newer businesses on our Illinois Mother Road miles, and a lot more communities are turning their Route 66 connections into local commerce. Route 66 was built for the purpose of connecting people from mid-country to California, and the reverse. What changes we’ve had! The economy in 2019, then the Covid shutdown in 2020 that no one could have thought would happen, to closed borders that prevented our International Roadies from visiting. Getting back to our “new” normal in 2021 was interesting – masks, no masks. Boosters – no boosters. We made it thru 2021 and 2022 brought back the restart of many old festivals and newly created 66 get-togethers across the entire 8 states that comprise Route 66. Our local visitors to our Route 66 all of Fame and Museum has greatly increased this past summer, and we are back to hosting schools and groups. Our museum is currently on Winter hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be until Spring!
Across the state the different Convention Bureaus and the Scenic Byways are getting involved in new promotions for the upcoming Route 66 Centennial in 2026. This is economic development and tourism which is separate from our goal of preservation. However we as an Association want to have a exciting, back to our roots 2026 Motor Tour that’s designed by our members. We want to hear from all of you what you liked, what you think we should do for the Centennial, and what your memories are. We want to celebrate with you when the Mother Road turns 100!
In the meantime we’re working on the 2023 Motor Tour. Put the dates June 9th, 10th, and 11th on the calendar now! We’ll be traveling from South to
North and the theme will be “Remember when….” We need your ideas! There will be a Motor Tour Meeting after the General Meeting at the Pontiac City Hall Annex on Sunday, January 15th at approximately 3 p.m. All are welcome to the meeting and especially to the Motor Tour meeting.
There have been many changes this fall, Bob Karls, City Manager, and the most forward thinking man God ever created retired from Pontiac after 40 years. Don Schlosser, the amazing Trolley Driver/Tour Guide, retired, Ellie Alexander “Tourism Extraordinaire” had retired. We are so lucky in that the new City Manager Jim Woolford is a strong community leader. Liz Vincent has been amazing in her role as Tourism Director/Community Enrichment. As for the new Trolley Driver – we’ll see what happens in May! The rules have changed for the Trolley driver – it’s a different license and new rules!
Marty Blitstein had been an amazing Treasurer and Membership Chairman and was devoted to his job. Unfortunately a lot of his expertise was in his brain,
and we are still striving to get back to the consistency that Marty had when he ran the Membership. We are looking into a new online membership program that would enable members to go online and update their membership easily, as well as let the Membership person know who needs to be contacted for follow up. I have spent hours trying to recreate reports that are necessary. Marty had a great program in place with codes and never let anyone drop without
a full press of contact and letters. The past 9 months have been a real challenge for me to get all his work organized and all his reports done without his expertise, his coding system, or his guidance. He left no Cliff Notes.
Dwight Cannon has taken over our website and has spent a great deal of time and effort to update it and reestablish our website being more user friendly. This will be an ongoing process.
Your Board members all volunteer their time to make our Association run smoothly. Board members Shelly Scinto and Scott Bickett are working on our
Facebook page. Social media is here to stay however it is important to remember our Association is staffed by volunteers. Volunteers many of whom also have full time jobs.
Emmy Bates has been exceptional at making sure our museum has Board members as welcoming staff at the museum on Saturdays. Board members are requested to work 3 Saturdays a year at the Museum working as hosts at the museum.
Many of our members also go to car shows and distribute our maps and brochures as well. Last year several of our Board members worked at the Berwyn Car Show and the Cops and Hot Rodders Car Show in Joliet to sell Association Tshirts and license plates (Kathy and John Miller, Jamie Anderson, Mark Anderson,
Diane and Steve Nalefski, myself). Tim Walsh not only represents us on “The Road Ahead” committee, but tours and keeps our southern counties reported on. John Weiss, our Preservation Chairman, keeps us all aware of what is going on as far as Preservation.
Our Association’s glossy brochure which we hand out free to members and visitors to our museum in Pontiac is being updated. Since the last printing in 2015 of 78,000 copies, our brochure has traveled the world. John Weiss and I met with the publisher from Premier Printing to go over the map and we are in the process of updating and making changes to bring the map current. We are looking forward to having it reprinted and ready for the Red Carpet Weekend (May 6th, 2023).
Winter is here and there’s still road construction wherever you go. Illinois’ fifth season – construction – will be with us for the next few years as the infrastructure is updated.
Board member Tim Walsh represented us at the recent Groundbreaking Ceremony at the Chain of Rocks Bridge. The Greenways also held a car show on the bridge this year. As they replace the bridge that replaced the Chain of Rocks Bridge I am grateful that the original bridge is still there – and being used. It is one of Illinois’ “jewels” in my book.
So be careful with winter, don’t forget your gloves and a hat when the cold winds blow. Whether you’re in front of a fireplace, or a big screen TV, it’s time to sit and reflect on the past year and to plan some great road trips for next year.
On behalf of the entire Board/County Representatives, we wish you a happy, healthy, safe, and peaceful New Year! Our Association is filled with amazing people who support our Illinois miles – maybe Santa Claus will bring us the gift of becoming a National Trail!
Happy Holidays to all – hope to see you on the road!
Cathie Stevanovich, President
Route 66 Association of Illinois